ABSTRACT

Salad vegetables purchased from farmer's markets and grocery stores in central Ohio during the summers of 2015 and 2016 were tested for the presence of Enterobacteriaceae resistant to extended-spectrum cephalosporins and carbapenems, Salmonella contamination, and coliform bacterial counts. A total of 364 samples were collected from 36 farmers' markets and 33 grocery stores. Using selective media, we found 23 (6.3%) samples that produced Enterobacteriaceae expressing an AmpC β-lactamase phenotype, with 11 (3.0%) confirmed to contain blaCMY and 6 (1.6%) that produced Enterobacteriaceae with an extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) phenotype, 1 (0.3%) of which was confirmed to contain blaCTX-M. All blaCMY and blaCTX-M strains were isolated from leafy greens. No Salmonella spp. or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae were recovered from fresh produce samples. Adjusting for year, the geometric mean coliform count differed (P < 0.05) between produce types, with the count in tomatoes (15 CFU/mL) being lower than those in cucumbers (77.4 CFU/mL) and leafy greens (75.0 CFU/mL). The coliform counts also differed (P < 0.05) between years, with 19.6 CFU/mL in 2015 and 96.0 CFU/mL in 2016. There was no difference in coliform counts or the prevalences of Enterobacteriaceae expressing AmpC or ESBL phenotypes in produce purchased from farmers' markets and grocery stores.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fresh produce may be contaminated with Enterobacteriaceae producing ESBL and AmpC β-lactamase.

  • All Enterobacteriaceae expressing extended-spectrum cephalosporin resistance were isolated from leafy greens.

  • Salmonella or carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae were not detected on fresh produce.

  • Coliform bacterial counts did not differ between produce from farmer's markets and grocery stores.

  • Recovery of ESC-resistant Enterobacteriaceae did not differ between sources of produce.

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